Champions tapped out at Royal Bath & West Show

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An incredible calibre of livestock was in attendance at this year’s Royal Bath & West Show – and no stone was left unturned by judges in the ring.

Beef kick-started the interbreed championships on Thursday (30 May) with the Supreme Champion title going to Millie and Boomer Birch’s homebred Highsky Erin’s Enchantment – a stunning example of the native Beef Shorthorn.

Judges awarded the three-year-old (b. Feb 2021) top spot for Beef Shorthorn Cow or Heifer, Female Champion, Best Exhibitor Bred, and overall Breed Champion – before judge Jimmy Mcmillan tapped her out for the coveted Interbreed title, all with her bull calf Highsky Tomahawk at foot. “She was our first homebred Shorthorn and has had such a great run of success,” said Mrs Birch.

Winning Interbreed Supreme Champion earlier in May at the North Somerset Show, Enchantment was also the Royal Welsh Breed Champion and Reserve Interbreed Champion in 2022, before being crowned ‘Miss Europe 22’ at the Shorthorn Breeder’s online Champion of the World competition, in the same year.

Out of Caramba Erin’s Kiss and by Carrarock Chalkie, Enchantment was flushed as a yearling heifer and her first embryo daughter, Highsky Enchantments Empress, is following in her mother’s footsteps with promising calf show accolades.

The Stafford-based Birch family are unwaveringly dedicated to their stock, with great ambitions for both their pedigree Shorthorns and pedigree Herefords. “We’d like to be at the Three Counties Show – and it would be the dream to take Interbreed Champion at the Royal Welsh later in the summer,” added Mrs Birch – who was just three weeks shy of her own due date.

Reserve champion went to Tom Hilsdon and Aimee Hunter with their homebred British Limousin, Poole Treasure, a January 2022-born heifer out of Wilodge Mizdiamante, sired by Powerful Irish. “We’re very happy with what Treasure has achieved today,” said Miss Hunter. “There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to get animals fit for show day – Tom puts in so much work.”

Poole Treasure also counts British Limousin Heifer, Female Champion, and Breed Champion as wins at this year’s show.

Into Friday (31 May) and it was a big day for the Interbreed Supreme Championships across the dairy, sheep and pig sections.

Scooping the Dairy Interbreed Supreme Championship was the Holstein Withamhall Pepper Hester 4 EX92. Bred and exhibited by Clare Cox, the fourth calver was haltered a mere three weeks before the show – and is every bit the working cow.

“Last year, just after the Dairy Show, we had the classifier at the farm and they asked if we’d taken her to the Dairy Show,” explained Ms Cox. “They were quite surprised when we said we hadn’t because I wasn’t sure if, at the time, she was good enough.”

Fast forward to this year’s Royal Bath & West Show and Ms Cox was in a bit of shock. “It still hasn’t sunk in yet,” she said. “She’s a fantastic cow – recording >14,000 litres over a 305-day lactation – she literally walked out of the parlour the day before the show, so she really is a working cow.”

Judge Alan Thomas commented that the cow had presence in the ring; big and upstanding, straight and level – a beautiful topline. Out of Withamhall Danillo Hester 2 and sired by Delaberge Pepper, she is now going home to be dried off on the Cox’s family 120-cow farm based near Frome, Somerset. “We would like her to be ready to take to the Dairy Show in the autumn; we’re really keen to see how she does there,” added Ms Cox.

“It’s a family effort, so we are all thrilled to take home Breed Champion, Best Exhibitor Bred, and Interbreed Champion titles.”

Reserve went to the Devon-based Greenway Ayrshires for Greenway Ross Great Jubilee – last year’s Interbreed Dairy Champion. Bred by Les and Tracey Rockett and exhibited by their daughter Abi Marshall, the family are delighted at clinching the reserve spot. “She’s a really excellent cow,” said Ms Marshall. “Producing 42 litres/day – she’s a tank but well balanced with a very good udder and mobility.

“At nine years old she’s still got it – we were also very pleased with her Reserve Champion Interbreed title at Devon County Show earlier in May.” And her progeny are carrying the winning trait, with Greenway Platinum Jubilee taking Champion Ayrshire at Exeter Calf Show last autumn.

In the sheep ring, the two-shear Border Leicester Westforth Walk On, shown by Jock and Katherine Muirhead, took the Interbreed Supreme Championship after clinching the Native Champion title. “We’re overwhelmed and so proud,” said Mrs Muirhead. “It makes all the late nights and hard work worthwhile.”

Judge John Campbell remarked that the quality of sheep classes had been second to none, making it a very good day for judges – but no easy task in tapping out the very best. “They’re all champions; all very good sheep, especially with the spring we’ve just had,” he said. “It’s also been wonderful to see the young handlers – the future of the sheep sector and our shows.”

Hailing from West Somerset, the flock is in the Muirhead’s five-year-old daughter’s name, Annie Muirhead, with 20 pedigree Border Leicesters alongside a 100-strong flock of North Country Mules.

Reserve spot went to Chris and Nick Lockyer’s Crayola Galentine – their Dutch Spotted shearling ewe – which also took Breed Champion and Continental Champion. Based in Honiton, Devon, the Lockyers were over the moon with the results. “We’re absolutely thrilled,” said Mr Lockyer. “She has such style and is so calm in the ring, but has the ring presence to go with it.” Mr Lockyer was also encouraged by the 70-plus Dutch Spotted entries at this year’s show, which he said is brilliant to see supported.

Over the course of the event, the Southdown Sheep Society’s National Show was hosted, with a fantastic turnout. Under judge Nick Page, Jonathan and Chrissie Long’s unbeaten shearling ewe Chaileybrook 23/01772, was tapped out as the National Champion.

Sired by Chaileybrook The Stag and out of a Dartagnan daughter – prominent Southdown genetics – the champion added to the Long family’s collection of rosettes to take home, including Reserve Champion with Chaileybrook’s full brother Chaileybrook 24/02116.

In with the pigs and the line-up for Interbreed Supreme Champion featured the rare British Lop pig and the lesser known Duroc, a breed originating from the USA. To the delight of the Loveless family from Dorset, it was Hayley Loveless’ Duroc gilt – Hazeway Havnbjerg – which claimed top spot.

The September-born gilt adds to Miss Loveless’ Interbreed Supreme Champion streak, after taking the title the previous two years with Hazeway Clyde in 2023 and Hazeway Thunder in 2022. And once again, the Supreme Champion was on its first outing – a testament to the work behind the scenes to get her pigs show-ready.

“I’m really pleased; I selected her because she really stands out from the rest of my pigs,” said Miss Loveless. “She’s got a good ham and great teat placement and a great presence – I’ve always liked her.”

Judge Steve Richardson was impressed with the line-up. “They were all strong contenders,” he said. “I choose the Duroc as my Supreme Champion – she’s got the best conformation I’ve seen here and is just a superb gilt, with good feet and movement.”

Reserve went to Martin Snell’s Yeovil-based homebred Large Black, Sock Doreen 251. The gilt is four weeks in-pig and was also impressive under the judge’s eye. “She is a great example of the breed,” said Mr Richardson. “It was a deliberation – but she is an absolutely fantastic pig.”